One of my pet peeves: As a general rule, you should always choose the simplest format possible for your files, especially if you’re going to be sharing them. So if you just have, say, a list of names, then use plain text. If you want to preserve things like bold and italicized text, use .rtf, and if you need to preserve everything like tables to footnotes, then use the full .doc, or better yet .odf, format. If you follow that rule yourself, it probably annoys you that people often send you .doc attachments that contain no information that couldn’t be stored just as easily in plain text and you have to fire up slow Microsoft Office just to view one silly file.

For this reason, I’ve been setting TextEdit to open my Word files by default for awhile, though I’ve found an even slicker solution: Antiword. It takes a .doc file and turns the content into plain text for your quick viewing pleasure. If you’re a command line junky, you can install antiword with fink homebrew and use it like this to quickly view a .doc file:

$ antiword somefile.doc | less

If you’re a vim user, you can follow this handy hint to open word documents right into vim like any other file. Very cool.

For the more GUI-centric, there are several Mac GUI’s for Antiword. AntiWordService, in particular, looks cool as it lets you open .doc files in any text editor.